Just over a year ago, I went independent. I launched this site, started writing weekly for The Catholic Weekly, and started producing weekly podcasts. Just over six months ago, I started writing monthly for America Magazine. A few months ago, I started writing every other month for my diocesan magazine, Parable.
I expected the first year as an independent contractor to be rough. But I am starting to think . . .
Do you know how lucky I am to do this for a living? I do! Every single day of my life I am grateful to you, my readers and friends, for making this thing possible. For supporting me on Patreon and through PayPal, for going the extra mile to use my affiliate links, for sending encouraging notes and leaving witty and interesting comments, for surprising me with the most generous and thoughtful gifts, for giving me ideas, for sharing my work, for listening to my podcast and laughing at my stupid jokes, for coming back after I piss you off, for correcting me when I go off the rails, for helping out with technical problems, and of course for alerting me when I meant “cloud” but wrote “butt” again. For praying for me and my family.
I am grateful for your patience as I learn how to do stuff on the fly, and as I leave stuff on the to-do list month after month. You are my absolute favorite readers. Because of you, it has been a good year. And thorough!
To wrap things up, here are my top ten most-read posts from 2017, starting with the most popular.
Poverty is dirty needles in your kid’s play space. It’s lead poisoning and cockroach-induced asthma. It’s windows you never open, even though it’s sweltering hot and you can’t afford AC, because your drunk neighbors are screaming obscenities at each other and you don’t want that to be your children’s lullaby at night. Poverty means you never have silence, ever, because someone’s always blasting their bass so hard your walls shake, shrieking, endlessly revving their engines, or beating the crap out of each other.
Why write about this? Because I believe that Catholic culture creates a dangerously optimistic expectation for marriage, encouraging people to strive and not give up, as if their effort can make any marriage thrive. For many many people, that is the best advice; but some of us live (or lived) in situations where covert abuse masked the hidden truth that one of the spouses in the marriage is too disordered (by sin, mental illness, addiction or other issues) to function in a Sacramental Union. Very often the faithful spouse suffers in isolation, feeling compelled to endure more abuse to be faithful to their marriage, family, Church.
I’m talking about women with many children being treated as if their wombs are a pandora’s box from which all ills and troubles flow. I’m talking about doctors behaving as if we’re nothing but a walking, whimpering uterus, and there is no sense in even discussing any other medical issue until we figure out how to put a cork in it.
Once you have given the money, it is no longer yours. That’s what it means to give. If you give but still want to hang on, then you haven’t really given; you’ve just tried to buy a share in another human being. Charity doesn’t come with a rubber band that you can twitch any time you feel like it, making the other fellow dance to your ideals. That’s not giving. That’s investing, and we’re not supposed to treat other people like investment property.
So yes, there are good fruits. But nobody gets to pretend to be my mother. There aren’t enough good fruits in the world to justify sitting back and letting that happen.
If you care to see it, there’s mountain upon mountain of evidence that the apparitions are false — either a hoax perpetrated by the seers, or something diabolical.
And so the mother does the thing that makes the most sense to a pagan, when nature fails her: She bows to artifice, and finds a way to bring her children with her, clumsily, sentimentally, but grasping at something that seems true: We are made to be with the ones we love. We are supposed to be able to give them life, and to keep them safe.
She knows they are her children. But does she know what children are?
In order to turn embryos into jewelry, one must believe that all children, and all people, can be made safe. One must believe there is such a thing as safety in this world.
Incredibly, the complainer sought her out after Mass to double down and say it again: Your children don’t belong here. Do not bring them here.
Let’s be clear: This is a message straight from Hell. The Mass is humanity’s main source of grace and life, and if no one goes, then no one will have grace or life. Telling parents their kids don’t belong at Mass is like trampling down every seedling you find, then clucking your tongue over the poor harvest.
This dress code acknowledges that any modesty guidelines are going to have shortcomings, because of what a subjective thing modesty is, and it does girls and parents the favor of asking them to “not put school administrators in the difficult position of upholding school standards.”
In other words, it asks them to think about and uphold those standards themselves. To behave as adults, and not to throw a temper tantrum over their sacred civil right to have a cut-out heart on their ass. “We’re all in this together,” is the basic message, “So please help us have a nice time at the dance, rather than turning this into one more exhausting battle over stupid stuff.”
No dice, Boylan Catholic. The internet chooses temper tantrum every time.
9. Allegations of spiritual abuse and sexual misconduct throw Sick Pilgrim into turmoil and Sick Pilgrim Turmoil, Part 2: Donna Provencher’s story
Griffith says it’s incredibly painful to see the destruction of the book she worked on for years, the site she founded, and the community she fostered. But “the book makes him appear a trustworthy spiritual guide,” she says. People assumed he was reliable because she associated with him, she says.
“I hate to think he’d use that to groom someone else. I’m not going to provide a henhouse for him to raid.”
I asked the younger missionary: “Doesn’t that worry you, at all?”
She paused. They talked a bit about good fruits. So I took a chance and told them about Father Maciel.
And there it is! Happy new year to all of you. I love youse all.
Up next: My ten favorite posts from 2017 . . .
(I have not included two posts that turned up in the top ten. One was the post where I shared the news of the death of Anthony Gallegos, and one was the post where I announced Amazon had terminated my affiliate account.)
Angry man: Crosa via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Man on string: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Embryos: by ZEISS microscopy via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Stained glass: Detail of window in Lansdowne Church in Glasgow; photo by Tom Donald via Flickr (Creative Commons)
LDS: Versageek via Flickr (Creative Commons)